Accidents related to a pre-existing medical condition may constitute up to 20% of total vehicle crashes in the United States. The presence of a medical condition as a contributing factor can complicate legal cases. In many auto accidents, fault can be relatively easy to determine, whether it is due to a failure to adhere to traffic laws, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, or driving distracted, tired, or in otherwise reckless ways. When a driver’s medical condition is involved, there are additional factors to consider.
There are hundreds of thousands of vehicle accidents each year in the United States, resulting in loss of life and debilitating injuries to the brain and spinal cord. These injuries have a significant cost for victims and their families. In fact, the National Safety Council has estimated the average comprehensive cost of accidents, including medical expenses, wage loss, vehicle damage, and other economic costs, as well as costs for the lost quality of life.
- Comprehensive cost of a death: $4,100,000
- Comprehensive cost of an incapacitating injury: $208,500
- Comprehensive cost of a non-incapacitating evident injury: $53,200
If you ever wonder why the attorneys at Rhoads & Rhoads have dedicated our lives to fighting for justice for victims, these numbers should tell you at least part of the story. Victims of wrongdoing and negligence are not only hurting but financially, emotionally, and physically vulnerable. But how is a case impacted when the other driver, having potentially caused the accident, is also vulnerable? And how do we determine whether their medical condition absolves them of fault?
Pre-Existing Health Conditions and Sudden Emergency Doctrine
In determining fault for an accident caused by a pre-existing medical condition, a judge will consider multiple pieces of information. A judge is likely to review expert testimony from neurologists, cardiologists, and other medical specialists, with en eye on whether or not the driver knew about the pre-existing health condition and if so, whether he or she was intentionally negligent in failing to properly monitor or care for themselves. A judge may also look at how much the condition contributed to the crash, the severity of the condition, injuries, and property damage.
An effective defense may come via the sudden emergency doctrine, which generally states a driver’s loss of consciousness must be shown to have occurred without warning or in a way that kept the driver from taking appropriate health and safety precautions. With this in mind, the responsibility is apt to be much higher for someone who knows he or she is diabetic and has not properly taken medications and/or tested to maintain safe blood sugar levels than for a driver who has a sudden heart attack with no prior knowledge of heart disease.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident caused in part by a medical condition or medical incident, the auto accident attorneys at Rhoads & Rhoads can help you find the justice and peace of mind you deserve. Call us today at 888-709-9329 for your FREE consultation.